Story by Denise Coots | Apr 26, 2018

How to get your child to eat healthy.

Until recently, only five to 10 percent of America’s children were overweight. Today, more than twice as many kids are overweight. That adds up to about one in four children — 10 million across the country — who are heavier than their ideal body weight. There is not a racial, ethnic, or age group that escapes this mind-boggling fact, and boys and girls are both affected. Obesity is thus the most prevalent nutritional disease of children and adolescents in the United States.

What we can do

One key recommendation that nutrition professionals across the board agree on: adults and children need to eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s as simple as that!

Know the benefits

The list of benefits for a diet loaded with fruits and vegetables is almost endless. Not only are they high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but they’re also low in fat and calories. Eating them will help you control your weight and blood pressure.

Kids who meet the recommendations for daily fruit and vegetable intake may get sick less often or feel better on a daily basis, and what parent doesn’t want that for their child?
Dietitians commonly advise parents to change things up to add some zest. Creating a rainbow on your plate will give you a wide variety of nutrients. You can make funny faces out of different fruits and veggies, which is always fun. By the same token, don’t overthink it. Some old standbys are still very good for your child.

Apples: While they’re not guaranteed to keep the doctor away, apples are a good source of fiber, which can lower cholesterol and glucose. Apples also pack vitamin C, which protects cells from damage and aids in the absorption of iron.

 

Blueberries: They may help prevent heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Blueberries may also improve short-term memory and promote healthy aging. Try adding frozen blueberries to a bowl of hot cereal.

 

Broccoli: You may not know it, but this green veggie is rich in vitamin C and vitamin A and is also linked to preserving eye health. Let the kiddos enjoy raw broccoli with a healthy dip.

 

 

Spinach: This superfood virtually does it all. Spinach can boost your immune system and protect you against age-related vision diseases, heart disease, and some cancers.

 

 

How you can help yourself

In order to meet the daily recommendations, families need to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into every meal.

That might be difficult, for example, if breakfast is usually cereal or eggs and toast. But there are ways to incorporate fresh, canned, dried, or frozen fruits and vegetables into these meals without adding too much effort.

These are just a few tips from the American Heart Association.

At breakfast:
Add bananas, raisins, or berries to your cereal.
Add onions, celery, peppers, or spinach to your eggs and potatoes.

 

At lunch:
Put cucumber, sprouts, tomato, or avocado on your sandwich.
Have a piece of fruit or raw veggie sticks instead of chips as a side.

 

At dinner:
When you use the oven, put in a whole potato or sweet potato at the same time.
Add onions, garlic, or celery when making sauces.
When making rice, add some frozen peas for the last three minutes of cooking.

Lastly, encourage children to eat vegetables and fruits by making it fun. Provide healthy ingredients and let kids help with preparation. Kids are more likely to try a new and different food they previously avoided if they helped pick it out and make it.

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